The Holy Wild Grimoire
By Danielle Dulsky
Publisher: New World Library
Publication: September 13, 2022
From the Publisher:
“Claim Your Mythic Purpose:
This grimoire — a book of magick, spells, ceremonies, journaling exercises, recipes, and incantations — is an invitation to be Witch and bewitch. As you journey through this book, you will reflect and reshape your story, beholding your life’s poetry and wielding a mythic intelligence. Danielle Dulsky guides you to see through the lens of the five elements, earth, water, fire, air, and ether, and to call upon age-old archetypes to heal and liberate your best self. You will become a rebel queen, hooded seer, and wild king. Rising above the ecological disaster, political gridlock, and disease of the overculture, you will become a word-witch, writing your world whole again, howling with power, and singing songs of a new world reborn.”
I have and love Danielle Dulsky’s book The Holy Wild so when my editor posted The Holy Wild Grimoire, I requested it. I wanted it badly. If another reviewer had beaten me to it, I would have had to have waited until it was released and bought a copy. I got lucky! There is so much good here I cannot cover it all in a book review! I fear I will not do it justice.
She does not disappoint! With rich language that feeds the soul, she tells us what being heathen means. We hear the pulse-beat of the Holy Wild and know we are here for a reason. “We know we are here to fulfill some strange and unnameable role, and we stand now in the dark, primordial void where all possibilities and all futures exist.” We are a living heathen memory quilt of limitless incarnations. We were here. We are here. We will be here. For this reason, our stories matter. We chose to be here. Now. In this time.
The planet is not dying. To assume so is to center the human. The dominance of the human is what led us here to the brink of climate collapse. Whether or not the human animal will survive the crisis it has created remains to be seen but earth will most certainly go on.
In each section I will give you a brief quote and will mention a favorite ritual I read although each person will have a favorite of their own.
Book One – the Book of Earth: Heathen Verses from the Underworld
As you write in your grimoire, if the words do not come easily, draw images. Speak in symbols. Find solace in the in-between.
“Some say the gods left these lands long ago, but I say the land is god. I, Deer-Woman, say we are still here. Sing for me.
I am deep time. I am a perpetual bud before the bloom. I am the eternal sun shower and the sound of night birds waking. I am what wildness dreams of. I am the slow-beating heart of a child’s hope, and I am the infinite possibility of an early dawn.”
All throughout the book she gives us questions and journal prompts, beginning here in Book One. This will help us to delve deeply with words and symbols. Her words are inspired. Deer-Woman speaks to the Primordial Woman within you. The story here is “The Homecoming of Deer-Woman”. It gives us much to reflect on. There are suggestions for rituals and spells in additions to the questions, prompts, and visions. I especially like “Earth Spell: Living Altar”.
Book Two – The Book of Water: Heathen Verses of the Sacred Rivers
“Befriending our feeling flesh is honoring our creaturely nature. The water element has much to teach us about expression, the senses, and the fluid nature of our emotions.”
We all have an art we are born to channel. No two rivers share the same curves. There is a story only you can tell and your scars have made it so.
Maeve speaks in the Book of Water as Deer-Woman spoke in the Book of Earth. The story is Queen of Holy Intoxication. She went on to tell another story of an impatient king, a queen, and a trickster. As she told the story of the five misbegotten sons of this king, I was thinking ‘that sounds like the world today’ and she said, ‘This is the moment your world finds itself in right now.’ Then she goes on to tell us that we have been chosen. The time of the Great Remembering has begun.
“Some say the gods left these waters long ago, but I say the waters are god. I, Maeve, say we are still here. Sing for me.”
“I am undone. I fall to my knees and am about to claim defeat … when I feel spectral hands lifting me to my feet. I sense the grandmothers of my line holding me upright when all I want is to sink down, and I find the courage to speak of my truest currencies.”
In Book Two, there are spells and reflections for water, questions, journal prompts, and visions. The spell I especially like in this part is ‘Water Spell: Visions From the Well’.
Book Three – The Book of Fire: Heathen Verses of the Burning Temple
Like all the elements, the fire element holds the power to give both life and death. Nature does not abide by our notions of mortality, and fire grants us us lifesaving warmth as easily as it causes destruction. To create a kinship with the fire element means to respect your own power, to not shy away from your own heat, and to be clear about your intentions when the flames are kindled.
Macha speaks in the Book of Fire. She was Goddess of the Wilds. She became human by choice. The story here is The Ire of the Fallen Mother. Macha is the fallen mother. She screams the rage of every fallen mother.
Fire promotes reflection. Once upon a time, the hearth was the heart of every home. Fire was the original oracle. Fire was life.
“Some say the gods left these fires long ago, but I say the fires are god. I, the fallen mother, say we are still here. Sing for us.”
“There is an integral part of our heathen souls that speaks the language of fire, that respects the ancient role of the flame tender and knows that, like the earth and water elements, fire is life. Remember that for some of our ancestors, to let the fire go cold during the longest nights of the year meant death, and for that reason, the fire could not be ignored. Being present to the fire means providing fuel and boundaries to the flames. Being present to the fire means discernment and containment, and our fire magick requires both. Losing the presence to fire means it might burn roughshod over the ground, swallowing all we hold dear whole, or may fizzle too soon and leave us cold. Befriend the part of you that speaks the language of the flames, that knows when to stoke the embers and when to let them be, and become the fire-keeper, the pyromancer, and prophetess.”
There are questions, journal prompts, visions, and spells for the Book of Fire. My favorite in this section is “Fire Spell: Protecting the Hearth”.
Book Four – The Book of Air: Heathen Verses of the Griever’s Breath
The Air element speaks the language of balance and trust. Every breath is a gift we receive and offer in return. Our air magick is subtler than that of earth, water, and fire.
I have connected to all the different elements but this one was different. I am sure each reader will connect more strongly to a different element but this one was mine. I had to back up and read it again. Yes, I am air even though I connect strongly to earth and water. I have seen myself many times in vision on that cliff overlooking the sea gazing at the horizon. This is the hymn of my heart. The wolf has run by my side, in spirit if not in body. I, too, am loud-mouthed, a Priestess of Air, a witch of the wind, a wounded healer.
Magick is less tangible in air, our intentions less concrete. The air bids us see the subtle vibrations that surround us. Air is what is left when all else is gone. Surrender is required both the healer and the one being healed so there is a vulnerability. Letting down the walls you have built is not easy.
The story related here is The Blood Cloak. It is told by a blood-hooded Priestess rather than a specific Goddess.
“Some say the gods left the air long ago, but I say the air is god. I, the bloodhooded Priestess, say we are still here. Sing for us.”
“I hung my cloak on a spring sunbeam inside my hallowed temple, and I spoke bold words to those who would join me here:
May this cloak of medicinal blood and sacred flame reach the edges of this forbidden place. May we dance long and howl moon-ward, and may we remember why we came here to this time and place. Only what our cloaks will cover.”
The Book of Air has visions, journal prompts, questions, spells, and reflections as those before it. Of course, you streamline those you do for yourself so for my favorite, I think ‘Air Spell: Love Thyself’ or, with minor changes, ‘Air Vision IV: A Joyous Death’.
Book Five – The Book of Ether: Heathen Verses From the Unseen Others
Ether is the space between. Death is never immediately followed by a new birth. The void, the liminal space, the ‘twixt and ‘tween follows death. Time moves differently there. There is no pattern for the hours, no clock or calendar that makes sense. We are outside of what we know, and we have no vision of what may come.
The Hag, the Baba Yaga, the Cailleach – if the Crone Goddesses call your name, Book Five will reach deep into your spirit and touch those parts of you that know Her! She does not follow nor conform to the puny rules or dictates dreamed up by man. She is a law unto Herself! She is the Mist Dweller, the Keeper of the Cauldron of Death and Rebirth!
There is a short story titled ‘Return of the Mist Dwellers’. It is told by the Mist Dweller whom I inferred to be the Hag Goddess. You may see it differently.
“Some say the gods left these ethers long ago, but I say the ethers are god. I, the mist dweller, say we are still here. Sing for us.”
“The unique journey we are meant to take on this wild planet is soul designed and shaped largely by what we do not know, by the truths we long for and the mysteries we alone are meant to solve. If we knew all there was to know about ourselves, the gods, and that trickster vixen we call the future, we would not encounter the creatures we are meant to meet. We would not experience the joy and the grief, the pleasure and the pain, we are meant to experience in order to create the art we were born to create.
The void is the fertile womb from which our soul-designed life emerges again and again, initiation after initiation. There is a reason why people turn to divinity in times of great loss; sometimes we require the fallow times in order to see how spiritually rich we are. Sometimes we need the space left behind when some great thing falls to bones so that we may see more clearly, with vision uncluttered and hearts broken wide open.”
Personally speaking, the best things I ever wrote came out of my times of greatest pain, out of the times when I ‘hit bottom’ so I can attest that the darkness of the void is like the cocoon of the butterfly. You may melt into goo but you emerge a new creature.
As always, there are questions, journal prompts, visions, and spells. It was harder to choose a favorite but I chose ‘Ether Spell: Removing A Seer’s Obstacle’s’.
We chose to be here for these times. The remedy for apathy is awe. Be aware. Be present. Become a living altar. The witch lives on the fringes so they can better see the whole. Adapt. Imagine. Dream.
This reviewer will have to buy a hard copy of this book. This digital copy won’t be sufficient.
Danielle Dulsky is a heathen visionary, Aquarian mischief maker, storyteller, and word-witch. As an author and founder of the Hag School, she believes in the power of wild collectives and sudden circles of curious dreams for healing our modern aches. Parent to two wildlings and partner to a potter, Danielle lives in Pennsylvania and fills her world with art, family, and intentional awe. Find out more at DanielleDulsky.com
About the Author:
Katy Ravensong is a practicing green witch in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. She was raised here where she ran barefoot & free. She is a wife, mother, grandmother, voracious reader, crocheter, and amateur herbalist. She glories in the freedom that comes with being a Crone ~ when she is gone, she will not be known as a woman who could keep her mouth shut! She is disabled, yet tries to make disability work for her. She is an advocate for human rights. She is Dean of Wortcunning and Assistant Dean of Natural Philosophy at The Grey School of Wizardry. She has studied with various herbal teachers, with Witch School International, with Avalonian Institute of Metaphysical Arts, and is a priestess with the Sisters of Earthsong, Order of the White Moon. Her poetry has been featured in several publications including ‘Pagan Poetry for the Festivals and Seasons’ by Wyrdwood Publications edited by Edain Duguay, 2008. Her favorite quote is from Emily Dickinson “If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain. If I can ease one life the aching or cool one pain or help one fainting robin unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain.”